Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ministry slams Amnesty over labour claims

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DOHA: Qatar yesterday hit back at Amnesty International for accusing it of failing to deliver on reforms for migrant workers and said significant changes have been made to improve working conditions.A majority of workers coming to Qatar earn considerably more than they would at home, said the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

One benchmark of increasing migrant workers' earning capacity is that they collectively remitted about $12bn home in 2014, Qatar News Agency (QNA) quoted the ministry as saying.

"For those who suffer poor treatment, the ministry works to ensure they receive all support they need to improve their situation and action is taken against any company that mistreats workers," said the ministry.

In fact, Qatar aims to be a regional leader, driving change and improvement of standards in the region, the ministerial statement added. 

The ministry also talked of the Wage Protection System whereby all low-income workers are to be paid salaries through banking channels.

The ministry said it has also strengthened the capacity of labour inspectors who total 294 and their number is likely to reach 400 by year-end.

Last year, 51,000 inspections were conducted on companies and labour camps using the GPS and appropriate technology has been provided to ensure inspection reports are instantly filed electronically.

The ministry said it continues to clamp down on companies and manpower agencies and penalise them for breaking Qatari laws.

Manpower agencies outside Qatar exploiting workers in violation of the country's laws have been banned from recruiting for companies or manpower agencies in Qatar. 

New accommodations of global standards for over a million workers are being built across the country, the statement added.

The ministry said it has installed an electronic complaint-filing system for workers in seven languages and complaints reach authorities instantly.

"Any complaints from Nepalese workers unable to return home to rejoin their families (in the aftermath of the recent earthquake) would be treated with utmost urgency," the ministry assured.

It said it has always welcomed and has been open to viewpoints and ideas. "No one should be in any doubt that we are committed to bringing about effective and sustainable change." 

The ministry said it will continue to work closely with NGOs, international organisations and the business community to deliver on the commitment.

QNA added that Qatar affirmed its belief that the promotion and protection of human rights, which include expatriate workers' rights, is a strategic choice and the backbone of the comprehensive constitutional, economic, social and cultural reform policy of the state.

Talking about Amnesty's latest report, the labour ministry said that although it lauded the report, it disagreed with a number of its claims.

The Amnesty report said that a year after Qatar announced plans to improve conditions for low-paid workers engaged in development projects, the country had failed to deliver on reforms.

In a new briefing paper, the rights group criticised Qatar for making no substantive changes on some labour issues, including the sponsorship and exit permit systems, and delivering only partial progress in other areas.

The report was released a day after three major World Cup sponsors pressured FIFA to urge Qatar to do more to improve labour conditions, media reports suggested.

In its paper, Amnesty called Qatar's proposed changes to the sponsorship and exit permit rules inadequate, and noted that none of those reforms had yet been implemented.

The Associated Press said in a report quoting the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, H E Dr Abdullah bin Saleh Mubarak Al Khulaifi, as telling it earlier this month that the reform legislation was under review by the Shura Council and that he could not provide a time frame for the law to be implemented, but he hoped it would come into effect by the end of the year.

Citation - Taken From ZAWYA -  http://goo.gl/QwYi6X

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